Is united.com no longer displaying phantom Lufthansa first class award space?

Lufthansa offers one of my favorite first class products in the world, though unfortunately over the past few years it has become progressively more difficult to redeem miles for it. They only release first class award space to partner airlines at most ~15 days before departure, and even within that timeframe I’ve found they’re becoming stingier with releasing award space to the point that it’s tough to even find one first class award seat within a few days of departure in many of their premium markets (basically anywhere other than Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Montreal, Vancouver, etc.).

One thing that causes a lot of confusion regarding Lufthansa first class award space is that for over a year now United’s website has been showing phantom first class award availability on Lufthansa. Not only has United’s website shown Lufthansa first class award space more than ~15 days out that wasn’t actually available, but it has also not shown the correct award space within the timeframe where it’s actually released. In other words, United’s website has been utterly useless for searching Lufthansa first class availability. That’s not a huge deal, given that the ANA website can be used to accurately search Lufthansa first class award space, though it is a bit of a pain to use since you have to search route by route.

There’s finally good news as of a few days ago, though — best I can tell United has fixed their phantom Lufthansa first class award availability issue for the most part. For one, I no longer see them incorrectly showing Lufthansa first class award space more than ~15 days out. I also find that when the United website shows Lufthansa first class award space within ~15 days of departure, it’s accurate.

However, there’s one case in which I don’t find availability displayed by United to be accurate. Take a look at space from Frankfurt to Detroit in first class, for example. ANA shows award space every day between May 22 and June 2, which is 15 days from now.

United.com shows award space for all those dates as well, except June 2. When I checked about eight hours ago (Saturday afternoon) it didn’t show space for June 1 either. So it seems now that United’s website is only showing space for travel within 14 days. That means if Lufthansa releases award space 15 days out, United’s website won’t immediately pick it up. I’m willing to bet that in another 24 hours United’s website will show the space for June 2 as well.

But since award availability can accurately be searched on ANA’s website, why should you care about United’s website now displaying Lufthansa first class award space accurately (for the most part)?

Because ExpertFlyer.com lets you set availability alerts for flights, whereby they’ll email or text you when the space you’re looking for opens up (you specify the flight and fare class you’re looking for). Up until now this has been useless for Lufthansa first class, because ExpertFlyer is pulling their availability from United’s website. That means if United’s website was incorrectly showing Lufthansa first class award space you’d get an alert. Similarly if Lufthansa first class award space was actually available but just wasn’t showing on United’s website, you wouldn’t get an alert.

Anyway, Lufthansa first class award space is tougher than ever before to find, so being able to set ExpertFlyer alerts and getting accurate results is more valuable than ever. Here’s a post I wrote on how to use ExpertFlyer to set award availability alerts.


Hopefully this makes finding Lufthansa first class award space with partner miles a bit easier…

Comments

  1. When you set an availability alert on the tab where you select the airline would you put in Lufthansa or something else, wouldn’t selecting Lufthansa on that tab show you miles and more award availability? Basically I’m wanting to know how to set the alert for the flights that become available to be booked with United miles…

  2. @ Sunny M — Setting an alert for Lufthansa space will show you partner availability (the same isn’t true for Swiss).

  3. Just confirmed that phantom inventory DOES still exist. Like you I noticed some odd changes to UA’s availability, including a handful of dates within the 14 day period where ANA showed space yet UA did not. Well, I just found an example of the old phantom space for next Thursday (+11 days) and got the dreaded error message when I tried to book.

  4. Phantom stil exists. Check out ORD-FRA on May 26. I just got an ExpertFlyer alert stating that First Class (O) has opened up. After checking the United website, it shows up. After trying to book it, no dice. Checked ANA and it does not exist.

  5. Lufthansa premium cabins usually only show up on UA.com 24 hours before the flight. You can find saver and super saver rates at that time. Not so good for planning but good for catching a ride on their great FC product. You could always pay points and change fee at that time if you are already booked in Economy on any fare but S I believe.

  6. @ Gabe — Interesting. Looks like the issue is much better, but I guess there is still some phantom space out there.

    @ Brandon — I don’t think that’s quite true, though. United.com correctly shows space for Frankfurt to Detroit almost every for the next two weeks.

  7. I was seeing the DTW availability for my trip at the end of the month. Now to convince UA to let me route one way with 7 segments. next option is via YYZ at 6 segments. I’m holding out hope 747-800 opens up to DC.

    Is there a cut off to making a flight change?

    Is LH Old F better than UA GF?

  8. @ CDKing — As long as it’s before departure there’s not. I would say Lufthansa old first class is better than United first class, especially if you can use the FCT in Frankfurt.

  9. @Lucky. Mine is a 1 way itin over a 5 day period. Does it have to be before the first segment or just before the segment i want to change?

    FRA-IAD doesnt look good as its only F=3 so seems to be selling well. Another option is YYZ. It looks like Canada is same award region as the USA so hopefully wont cause to many issues. I don’t want to push my luck with routing. Its already SIN-BKK-HKG-NRT-FRA-ORD-BOS.

  10. @ CDKing — Technically it can be mid-itinerary, though once departure commences it can take forever to make changes, as it often requires a two hour hold with rates, or you’ll get a million reasons why the itinerary you want isn’t possible, because the computer no longer auto-prices things.

    I wouldn’t expect space to open up on any flight with Lufthansa that’s less than F4.

  11. I did find one instance when I was trying to get into LH F that gave an error when I tried to book it. This was last week.

  12. Yes, United still showing LH inventory and Expert Flyer has failed miserably at providing timely alerts for awards seats. Sometimes lagging by 3 or 4 days after the award seat actually became available.

  13. Yeah still phantom alright. Earlier this week I was seeing EWR-MUC-NRT for May 21st on UA while only one of the 2 legs were actually available. Now seeing NRT-FRA-ORD for May 27th, same thing.

  14. I’ve noticed many times it occurs the other way as well for my recent trip. No availability on ANA or United, but found that the agent saw space on her end. Scenario happened in both J ad F, but J more often.

  15. I just noticed space this afternoon opened up for FRA-BOS on 6/1 on united site that was not there this morning. I just called and agent wasnt able to see it. I guess i’ll try again tomorrow.

    Agent said my itin was one of the oddest routings she had ever seen and didnt even think its allowed anymore. i guess she probably isnt the one I want touching the itin.

    Another issue i noticed is website wanted to charge me 15K extra miles to make the change which is why I called

  16. Just an edit to my post above today. Just got access to ANA site and there is none. Seems to be phantom availability within the 14 days.

  17. I wish there was an edit button 🙂 A little over 24 hours after my last post FRA-BOS became available on ANA tool and i am now confirmed in F on LH. First Class terminal here I come 🙂 well after i fly to SIN on SQ F and have my Massage at TG F spa and after i have my Waygu beef on NH

  18. For the record, united.com is MOST CERTAINLY still showing phantom LH award availability. Such a shameful display by all involved.

  19. For some reason I will find many award space on a given date. But when putting a multidestination together, you can’t find business space on the return. when we call to manually book?

  20. @ leslie — United’s website often doesn’t show availability when searching a multi-city itinerary, but it should be available if you call.

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